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Recorder letters: Kenneth More Theatre and the elderly in summer

PUBLISHED: 12:30 30 June 2019

Redbridge Council plans to replace the Kenneth More Theatre with a new bigger theatre. Picture: PAUL BENNETT

Redbridge Council plans to replace the Kenneth More Theatre with a new bigger theatre. Picture: PAUL BENNETT

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Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Wake up from KMT pipe-dream

Ken Gaunt, Greenslade Road, Barking, writes:

What the council proposes [for the Kenneth More Theatre] is a load of tosh.

What will happen in August when the KMT shut their doors, will it stay empty and more flats built?

Does that mean Ilford will have no theatre for five years as Cllr Athwal states?

Surely for shows like the KMT show (semi-amateur dramatic companies), a 900 seater is far too big, and for West End and touring shows and productions it will be too small. Talk about a complete waste of money, Ilford has already got a brilliant theatre.

The KMT has performed to thousands and thousands over its 45 years. For the many semi-professional and amateur theatre companies, schools and special needs schools who hire the KMT, the 300 seater is quite large enough, plus seats are affordable, saving people a fortune in West End prices plus the journey into town.

Can you honestly tell me building a 900 seater and a new library and pool complex will attract any more people into Ilford?

Ilford had a swimming pool that was knocked down which had nothing wrong with it.

Firstly, you should be looking at the run down high street and Ilford in general, with all the big shops gone like Bodgers, Harrison and Gibson, Fairheads, part of Marks and Spencer.

Apart from Primark which is not one of the best, nothing - even Debenhams in the Exchange - attracts many customers. Also the ridiculous parking restrictions in and around the Ilford area.

There is nothing in Ilford to attract people and not many decent restaurants or pubs for people to meet at.

At least the KMT was a meeting point for families to socialise at the bar for a drink plus a first class show.

There is already quite a good library, cinema etc but it seems Redbridge Council wants to waste millions on this so-called pipe-dream. Come on, wake up councillors and get your priorities right.

We have theatre, so why replace it?

Barbara White, address supplied, writes:

I was horrified when I read the front page of last week's Ilford Recorder.

The leader of the council had told us that the Kenneth More Theatre (KMT) was safe in his hands. I never realised that the meaning of safe meant demolition.

We are supposed to be aiming for a cleaner greener Redbridge but the suggested plan will not help this.

We have a theatre, so why knock it down to build another one?

The council subsidy, I call it investment, was £157,000 per annum.

I know that we are strapped for cash because of lack of government funding and I applaud the council for what they have done with the small amount of money they get. However, £157,000 is a very small amount of money to invest in something that is so valuable to the community.

Yes the present KMT could do with a few more seats and a little refurbishment but surely that would be possible.

The theatre catered for all ages, especially the young people who were nurtured within the local company and many of whom went on to perform in West End shows.

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Another important part of the theatre is learning how to work backstage. There is work to be found in that field.

If we are thinking of younger people we must remember the little ones. How will they learn the magical thrill of pantomime when their parents are no longer able to take them to the theatre?

For most children this will be their first visit to a theatre and their first opportunity to witness a part of culture which will enhance their future years.

Groups of disabled and mentally challenged groups visit the theatre. Where will they go? A lot of elderly people attend the KMT and it is a lifeline to them. Somewhere to go and enjoy themselves.

It seems to me that some of the most vulnerable people in Redbridge will suffer because of these plans.

In the most recent edition of Redbridge Live Cllr Athwal says the new theatre will be able to put on West End standard productions. Anybody who attends the KMT will tell you they already do.

I have to wonder how many of our councillors visit the theatre, locally or somewhere else, on a regular basis? I'm sure that some of them have never seen a show at the KMT.

Was the KMT refused the money because this all singing and dancing plan was lurking in the background?

Venue must be saved at all costs

Paul Scott, Sandhurst Drive, Ilford, writes:

I believe that this venue [Kenneth More Theatre], which has served our community well since 1975, should be saved at all costs for the benefit of Ilford town centre and surrounding areas as it provides a good range of entertainment in a well placed location near the cinema which is also an integral part of the borough's cultural offer.

There ought to be a petition set up to save the theatre for future generations to enjoy. It makes more sense to have this type of place within Ilford rather than any more flats that we have enough of already.

The Kenneth More Theatre still remains one of the positive aspects in the London Borough of Redbridge which is as important as any library, museum, art gallery or open public parks are to local residents here.

The Redbridge Central Library and Museum should also be preserved as it has served the local community so well since 1986.

Both Reclaim Redbridge and Ilford Noise will campaign to preserve these worthy facilities.

Grandiose plan is a white elephant

G H Grandite, Brancaster Road, Ilford, writes:

The grandiose plan published this week is too big a plan for the area and a white elephant from the first day of construction as the housing will be an eyesore as well as causing further traffic pollution.

Improve KMT to luxury class and put the swimming pool elsewhere or put KMT in front of the library.

It would be too expensive, even over five years. It is unlikely to complete.

Guide to summer for older people

Lucy Harmer, director of services, Independent Age, writes:

Hot weather can carry with it some serious health risks - particularly for older members of our community.

It's for these reasons that Independent Age has launched a new, free Summer wise guide, aimed to help older people enjoy the summer safely. You can simply download it from independentage.org/summer-wise or order a free print copy by calling 0800 319 6789.

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